Thursday, 17 February 2011

Glorious mud

Another post on the limitations of science but hey, I like this theme.  Strange for a scientist I know but when you get pissed off that "science" is being used to back up the planning and controlling aspects of statism it's a good one to explore. 

Today I find myself, as usual, walking around a complex of separate buildings with paths connecting them, like a university campus.  But I often don't use the paths, because they are poorly laid out. I walk over the grass, even if it's a bit muddy as today, because it's a better (under my criteria) route.  Every time I do this I'm reminded of the (possibly apocryphal) tale of when a new university campus in the UK was built in the 60s (might have been York), they didn't put in the paths for the first term.  They just let the students find their own routes, then laid tarmac where the grass had been worn down by their footprints.  If this didn't actually happen it should as it's a brilliant idea.  It shows what can be achieved by letting individuals (literally!) find their own route through life rather than planning it for them. 

Now I'm sure there is some scientific study of path planning.  Maybe it's a civil engineering discipline or geography or something.  I can imagine it would use sophisticated computer models and various data analysis.  But I doubt in many cases it will produce as good a result as the story above. Sometimes it's best to give up the analyzing and theorising and simply use what in effect are the results of a huge free experiment. But then if you have a doctorate in path studies, you would probably disagree.  Which leads to one of my hypotheses as to why so many scientists (escpecially the academic ones) are deeply statist.  Without the need for planning and control, quite a lot of them wouldn't have jobs.

No comments:

Post a Comment